June 9, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
The Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA) in collaboration with civil society organisations working towards achieving peace and security, on Thursday, June 3rd, joined the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) to observe the Global Week Against Gun Violence, which is globally observed from May 31st to June 4th every year.
Speaking at the program hosted at the Council of Churches-Sierra Leone (CCSL) Board Room, King Harman Road in Freetown, Coordinator of SLANSA, Adenike Cole, called for the inclusion of more voices in finding solutions to gun violence and to support survivors of gun violence by ensuring the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, by establishing a fund for war victims to address the need for amputee and war wounded because they are the people with tangible evidences of the war.
Madam Cole also called for the effective regulation of guns and ammunition and a step up measure in the fight against domestic and gender based violence,
She said the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence started in 2003, as a way of raising awareness on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons across the globe.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘make your voice heard, unite against gun violence’.
Madam Cole acknowledged that gun violence is highly gender phenomenon and that it affects men, women, boys and girls in different ways.
She noted that men constitute the majority of the owners and users of small arms and that the majority of perpetrators and victims of gun violence are young men.
The SLANSA Coordinator said in conflict and post conflict situations, sexual violence against women and girls perpetrated by armed violence is an unending scourge.
“SLANSA has climaxed the Global Week of Action with the Wear Orange Campaign, a grassroots movement that began after the shooting of 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton in 2013 in the America city of Chicago; a bright and talented teenager that had sung in the second inauguration of President Barrack Obama, just two weeks earlier. The campaign message is simple: we need a safe future free from gun violence. During the long decade war and even after, Sierra Leone had got many Hadiyas,” she narrated.
She called on the government to adequately support the Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA), so that they could effectively and efficiently execute their task.
“We therefore call on all authorities to increase their budget allocation so that they will be financially and otherwise capable to deliver. If guns are in the wrong hands, development will not thrive and our children will not go to school,” she urged.
Daniel T. Fullah, Project Manager of the Sierra Leone Adult Education Association (SLADEA),said despite the several efforts and calls being made, there still seems to be much more violence in the country.
He said diagnosing the problem is very close to solving it, and that diet has an important role to play in the issue of violence.
He maintained that it has been proven that many act of violence is associated with the kind of diet the perpetrators consume, and that when nutrition is not in it proper form it will change the adverse composition of the brain, thus changing the personality of that individual by resulting to violence.
He highlighted that gun violence is not only caused by those who illegally possess weapon, but also security personnel who are supposed to protect lives and property.
Dr. Alphaeus Koroma, Director of Institute of Gender Research and Documentation at Fourah Bay College (FBC) dilated on the relevance of gender mainstreaming in the recruitment of security forces.
He said mostly women don’t carry weapons during insurgence, but they bear more consequences.
He promised to create positive impact towards combating or reducing gun violence in the country, irrespective of him being in the academic domain.
Olivia Victoria Davies, Coordinator for the ECOWAS Project- West Africa Response to Trafficking (COWART-T) said the project is the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) component of the ECOWAS regional programme.
She said the project has four different components-trafficking to the aspect of reducing the proliferation of small arms and gun trafficking.
She encouraged communities to come out with unregistered weapons and hand them over to the Small Arms Commission,as they would not be prosecuted but rather receive gift and awards for such.